Attacks on Christian beliefs have been increasing at an alarming rate in the United States Armed Forces, a disturbing trend that could spiral out of control unless it is stopped now, according to Rep. John Fleming, a Louisiana Republican.
"We've been getting multiple reports that indeed [this] has been happening," Fleming, a medical doctor and member of the House Armed Services and Natural Resources committees told Newsmax TV.
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"One case, where a gentleman, in off hours, was posting something on a religious blog. It was personal opinion … nothing to do with his duty and he was only placing information that reflected his beliefs. And he was reprimanded for that."
In another case, an officer was told he couldn't keep a Bible in his personal space, and in a third, an Army instructional course equated Evangelical Christianity to religious extremism and "something equivalent to the KKK and al-Qaida," Fleming said.
"So we're getting multiple complaints and it's clear that the statutory language of the law currently is inept."
Fleming recently introduced an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act that would guarantee service members not only the right to believe as they wish but the right to express those beliefs freely.
The bill would not only protect Christians, but other denominations that have been the subjects of religious discrimination.
"I have gotten reports of attacks against other denominations, other religions. It's only a matter of time, though, before that can happen. So far it seems to be a total attack on Christianity itself," Fleming said.
The White House has discredited the bill, stating it would have “a significant adverse effect on good order, discipline, morale and mission accomplishment," an argument Fleming believes comes with an agenda.
"The White House has a secular, humanistic agenda. They want to wipe – in fact, the Democrat Party in their own platform last year wiped even — any reference to God completely from their platform," he said.
"So it's all about secular unionism, the advancement of atheism, which they even tried to create in this law – Democrats did – an atheistic chaplaincy."
But the amendment, part of the National Defense Authorization Act — that has passed the House and the Senate Armed Services Committee and awaits consideration from the full Senate — appears to be on a forward track.
"It already has the chaplain in the House committee. We had two Democrats and one Republican say it went overwhelmingly, 33-26," Fleming said.
"It moved out of the same committee in the Senate, the Armed Services Committee, all Republicans and half the Democrats on the committee voted for it, and of course,the bill on the floor in the House passed overwhelming. So there is great momentum."
On another military matter, Fleming is concerned at the nation's plan to allow women to perform most combat jobs — including as Army Rangers and Navy SEALs — because of issues such of the high rate of sexual assault in the armed forces.
"There are several concerns and sexual assault is just one of them. The other one is are we going to lower the standards, despite what is said, to accommodate women?" Fleming said.
"These are people who are in special operations with special burdens, and the last thing we want is men and women subject to limitations in the protection of each other because of certain physical lack of capability.
"The other thing we have great concern about is this could open a pathway to drafting women … It's possible that in the future, women could be drafted not only into the military … but actually drafted into combat. I'm very uncomfortable with that."
On the ongoing controversy surrounding the IRS, which admitted targeting conservative groups seeking tax-exempt status, Fleming believes the practice was ordered from the nation's capital, although the specific origin still is unknown.
"It's clear that it came from Washington," Fleming said. "[That] the White House was informed of this, months, maybe even a year, before it came to light suggests … those bureaucrats who were in the IRS in Washington, high level, felt very comfortable attacking not only conservative organizations, but those who donated to the organizations by auditing their personal tax returns."
On the issue of former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden, who leaked classified information about surveillance programs that collect phone and email records, Fleming said he has "tremendous concern" about the privacy rights of Americans.
Despite administration claims that certain key lawmakers were briefed about the programs, he said, he was not one of them.
"I've been a congressman since 2009. I've been to briefings. I was never briefed," he said.
"It was never disclosed to me that private data on Americans, even in digital form, was being collected by the NSA or that members of the executive branch could make decisions based on previous fights of this decision, to fight the court decisions, to go and do further analysis and look deeper into that data.
"It was eye-opening to me. I have some doubts."
On the subject of immigration reform, Fleming calls the proposed bill "Obamacare Immigration."
"The Senate immigration bill is really the Senate amnesty bill. Let's make no mistake about it. It's … Obamacare immigration. In fact, we should call it Amnestycare," he said.
"As a result of that, if that bill comes to the House, over a third of a thousand pages, it should be taken apart and we should pass piecemeal provisions at the will of the House.
"On the other hand, we're already working on legislation here and we're working it on a piecemeal basis there, which is the right way to do it."
But, Fleming added, nothing should happen with immigration reform "without first securing the borders."
Also "nothing should pass the House when something is this important unless a majority of Republicans support it. We should never have a situation where it's passed with a majority of Democrats. It loses the majority of Republicans if it passes."
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